Manage a Nexus One with Broken Power Button [Updated]
Google’s Nexus One has been, or still is for some users, one of the best Android handset available. However it is far from being the perfect device we would all want to own. They have been reports of problems with the 3G signal, the quality and precision of the screen and also the reliability of the power button. In some cases, the power button will completely stop working and you’ll end up with a nice, Google-branded useless piece of electronics. The reason for the failure is explained by one user (n1 bone head) on the Nexus One Help forum:
“…the power button is mounted on a small board attached to the larger upper board by a small ribbon cable with 2 or 3 trace wires embedded. This smaller board is then bent to 90 degrees from the larger board. Every time you wake your phone this cable flexes slightly. Eventually the traces in the cable fail, at first making the button flaky, then failing completely…”
Luckily, there are solutions to be able to use your Nexus One without touching the power button.
Now, if you are in the U.S. and have not modify your Nexus One, not rooted or opened it, I would suggest you to get in touch directly with HTC to get a replacement under warranty (phone: 888.216.4736). Many have reported on help forums or on twitter that this device swap is a painless process very well handled by HTC, they will send you a new device and only then you’ll have to return the defective one so you will not be without a phone. However, if you have rooted your device and install a custom ROM, you’ve breached the warranty and HTC will not accept to replace the device (though they’ve made exceptions for some people).
If you are not in the U.S. the process will not be as easy, you might have to send your phone first. The cost and time frame will depends of your local HTC office (if you are lucky enough to have one); you will have contact them to find out.
Now, let’s say you don’t want or can’t get your Nexus One repaired. Here are all the actions to take to get around your defective power button.
Root your phone
This is the first step. There are many reasons to get root access to your phone: install custom ROMs, take screenshots, access paid apps in the Market if you normally can’t, etc. The process is easy and can be done in one click. Most of the apps listed below that will replace the power button require root access.
One XDA member (metalhead8816) created this hack that will allow you to wake up your Nexus One with the trackball. This hack is integrated into Cyanogen and Modaco ROMs so you should definitively install one of this two. This hack will only wake up the device not unlock it so it will mimic exactly what the power button action. Obviously by installing a custom ROM, you will have many more advantages compare to using the stock Android.
This app, available for free on the Market, will let you reboot the device. You have the choice of a normal reboot, a reboot into recovery mode or into the bootloader. Again, this app requires root access.
Airplane and silent mode
As you know, a long press on the power button will give you access to a menu from which you can place the phone in Airplane mode, restart or made it silent. The latter function can be achieved with the volume down button. For the Airplane mode, you can get it from the Wireless & network settings or you can get widgets from the Market to get a more direct access. I would suggest the very good Extended Controls (€0.79 on the Market), it will let you create customized Power Control widgets. You will be also able to rely on Extended Controls for screen saving settings.
I could not find any widget to put directly the phone in sleep mode (please, add a comment if you know one). The best way is to set the screen timeout time to 15 seconds. It can also be done using Extended Controls: you can have one widget to change the time out and one to keep the screen always on. Screebl ($1.99 on the Market) is another app that could help. This application will control the power savings based on the orientation of the phone. It takes a bit of time to get the correct settings for your usage but once you do have them it will help to put phone in sleep mode quickly when you are not using it.
Update: Andy in his comment below suggested to use Lock Screen Widget (free on the Market) to lock the screen, it works like a charm, thank you!
It will happen sooner or later, you will have to start your Nexus One after the battery will have died or after changing the SIM or SD-card. Without the power button, it would seem impossible, but you can! The trick is to connect the phone via USB to a power source (a charger or computer) and then to remove and insert the battery successively, after a while (5-10 insertions) the device will get confuse and will start. This tip came from Karno, a user from the Nexus One Help forum. I would advise you to always keep a USB cable with you, it will help to borrow a USB port to recharge your phone or restart it if you need to.
To conclude, it is obvious that the Nexus One has a fault with this unreliable power button and we should not have to go to such extent to get around the problem. I hope that HTC has learned from this and has avoided this type of design in all the devices that came after the Nexus One. In the mean time, with these few tips, you can still use your beloved Nexus One without fear that a hardware issue will get in the way.